What is childhood Depression like?

Mama asks: My son is 11 yrs old. Since he was young, he easily gets angry from any thing. He can beat his friends for teasing him, he answers his teachers badly, and it’s never easy to calm him down. I’ve tried to talk to him, punish him, and do anything to stop it. When he calms down from his anger attacks, he either starts to wonder why he did it or tries to lie about what happened and say he was not the cause of the problem. Help me please.

Hi Mama –


I have a lot of thoughts about what might be going on, but they all lead to the same place.  Your son has a definite anger problem, which is beyond what’s normal for his age.  I really would urge you to find a good therapist who specializes in kids, as it sounds like there’s something really bothering your son, and the sooner it gets resolved, the happier he will be.


Having said that, my sense is that your son is probably a bit depressed.  We all know what depression looks like in adults – melancholy moods, hopelessness, lack of energy – but it’s almost the exact opposite in kids and early teens.  Depression at that age comes out as anger, defiance, and most particularly it comes out in ways that don’t do the kid any good!  If your son were just getting in fights with people who were mean to him, or even beating up other kids to steal their money or lunches, that would be one thing.  But it seems he’s blowing up in circumstances that actually make his life worse.  And that does sound like depression.


So while you look for a good therapist, you might also want to do some things with your son to help him express what’s bothering him.  Maybe ask him what he might be sad about.  Or sit down with him and the two of you draw some pictures together, or share in writing a story.  Don’t censor what he draws or says: if it’s violent or negative, that might just be his way of expressing what’s in his soul; and expressing it in this safe way might help him not need to express it with anger at school.


And please feel free to write me back with any specific concerns you have.  Or better yet, have HIM write me about problems he’s having.  I’m guessing he could use some good friends right now.  And while an online dog isn’t as good as a present human being (or a real-life dog, which would be fantastic for him!), it’s likely that I can help him out.


Thanks for writing, Mama, and good luck!




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